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Module 1

For reference use in this Module:

Attacking Child Labour in the Philippines:
An Indicative Framework for Philippine-ILO Action
Published by the International Labour Office, 1994.

The ILO and Child Labour

The ILO is unique among international organizations in that it brings together, on an equal footing, governments, workers and employers in a common endeavor to improve social protection and conditions of life and work throughout the world. Created together with the League of Nations by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, the ILO became in 1946 the first specialized agency associated with the United Nations.
Ever since its creation the ILO has devoted a major part of its efforts to the elimination of child labour. The Preamble to its Constitution commits the Organization to the protection of children as one of the essential elements in the pursuit of social justice and universal peace.
Only a few months after its foundation, the Organization adopted its first Convention on child labour, prohibiting work by children under 14 years of age in industrial undertakings. A number of Minimum Age Conventions followed, applying to specific sectors and occupations. The two Conventions on forced labour (No. 29 of 1930, and No. 105 of 1957), which have been widely ratified, continue to be instrumental in the fight against all forms of child slavery.
In more recent times comprehensive standards have been laid out in the Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) and its accompanying Recommendation (No. 146). The Convention calls on member States to aim at the effective abolition of child labour.
A Convention on child labour, which would focus on the most hazardous and exploitative forms of such labour, is expected to be discussed and considered for adoption by the International Labour Conference in 1998 and 1999.
The ILO has launched a vigorous offensive against child labour. In 1992 this effort received new impetus with the creation of the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC). The Programme is now in operation on three continents and in more than 20 countries.

IPEC's Objectives

The aim of IPEC is the phased elimination of child labour by strengthening the capability of countries to deal with the problem and by promoting a worldwide movement to combat child labour.

Child labour is a vast, complex and multi-faceted phenomenon. In the long term it can be solved only from within the countries themselves. That is why ILO-IPEC strives to:

    • support national efforts to combat child labour and to build up a permanent capacity to tackle the problem
    • give priority to the eradication of the most hazardous and exploitative types of child labour
    • insist on preventive measures

The experience of IPEC in the field has confirmed that it is unrealistic to believe that this problem which has existed for such a long time, can be eliminated overnight. While the achievement of this ultimate goal is in progress, ILO's most pressing obligation is to assist in halting the intolerable. It has, therefore, established

three priority target groups

1. children working under forced labour conditions and in bondage
2. children in hazardous working conditions and occupations
3. very young working children (under 12 years of age)

Within these groups, special attention is given to working girls, who are particularly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

IPEC'S Strategy

In ILO-IPEC's view the best way to strengthen the capacity of partner organizations is to apply a phased and multi-sectoral strategy consisting of the following steps:

    • motivating ILO constituents and other relevant partners to engage in a dialogue on child labour and to create alliances to overcome the problem. This culminates in a formal commitment by the government to cooperate with ILO-IPEC, expressed in a Memorandum of Understanding between the government and the ILO.
    • carrying out a situation analysis to find out the nature and magnitude of child labour problems in a given country
    • assisting the concerned parties within a country in devising national policies to address specific child labour problems
    • strengthening the existing organizations and setting up institutional mechanisms in order to achieve national ownership of the Programme. A National Steering Committee is established, consisting of the concerned ministries, workers' and employers' organizations and NGOs, to advise on policy implementation
    • creating awareness of the problem of child labour nationwide, in the community and at the workplace.

The starting point for implementing ILO-IPEC's strategy in participating countries is the will and commitment of individual governments to address child labour in cooperation and consultation with employers' organizations, workers' organizations, NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and relevant parties in society, such as universities and the media.
They are aided to adopt measures which aim at:

  • preventing child labour
  • withdrawing children from exploitative and hazardous work and providing alternatives
  • improving working conditions as a transitional measure towards the elimination of child labour
  • promoting the development and application of protective legislation

  • supporting direct action with (potential) child workers and their entourage to demonstrate that it is possible to prevent children at risk from entering the workforce prematurely and to withdraw working children from exploitative and hazardous work
  • reproducing and expanding successful projects in order to integrate their strong points into the regular programmes and budgets of the social partners
  • integrating child labour issues systematically into social and economic development policies, programmes and budgets

ILO-IPEC has set itself a time-frame of around ten years for the provision of assistance to a given country. This time period is, of course, flexible; some countries may need less or more time depending on their stage of development, the nature and extent of child labour in the country, and the political and public resolve to combat it. (Taken from a pamphlet entitled International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), International Labour Office, Geneva 22, Switzerland.)
Practicum Notes

The exploitation of inspection visits can be broken down into three distinct operations which can be carried out in both training situations and the everyday work of labor inspectors:

1. Plan of the workplace - a sketch of the layout of the workplace showing areas where both adults and children work, storage places, drinking fountains, toilets, etc. This is done by the participant or, where readily available, obtained from the employer.

2. Production process - in the form of a synopsis or diagram, using standardized symbols, of the sequence of production operations.

These two visual operations (the plan of the workplace and the production process) identify the following:

a. the places in which children work
b. the risks to which they are exposed
c. the work they perform

3. Completed observation guides - showing the number of adult and child workers exposed to the various hazards or who are subjected to constraints in relation to working hours, piece-work rates or type of employment relationship.

This exercise, which is extremely instructive, forces the participants to compare their own observations with evaluations of hazards and conditions of work based on interviews with children and with other persons concerned. It requires great rigor, since the figures contained in enterprise files will serve as the raw material for sectoral assessments.

Upon convening for Module II, the concerted summary of observations and assessments, expressed in terms of the numbers of adult and child workers exposed, should then be incorporated, enterprise by enterprise, in a table which assesses working conditions at the sectoral level.

As many sectoral assessments as necessary should be established, covering, for example, the following sectors:

    • large plantations
  • family farms
  • mining
  • agro-food industries
  • hotels, bars and restaurants
  • garages, mechanical workshops and welding
  • carpentry
  • building sites
  • homeworkers and domestic servants

This rigorous method for the collection and synthesis of information permits a progressive transition from the level of the enterprise to the sectoral and then the national level.

When the results of this operation of watching and listening are compared in terms of quality and quantity with the imprecise, partial and unreliable information available from the usual written sources, it will be agreed that the investment in training for inspectors and on-site visits is worth the effort and that a position has been reached in which labor inspectors are better prepared to evaluate and understand the situations encountered by working children.


This is a data-gathering exercise to be able to paint a picture of the working conditions of children. The idea is to get as much information as possible using the items in the Observation Guide.

The plant visits will rely heavily on the use of the Observation Guide. Your experiences on the use of this guide will contribute significantly in modifying and adapting it as you see fit in the Philippine situation.

By the time you return for Module 2, you should be able to bring:

  • a bunch of Observation Guides already completed. (This means that you would have to return to the children as many times as needed to complete the Guide. "Bunch" is defined according to targets set tonight in the practicum design workshop.)
  • a report that shows the enterprises visited, number of children seen and interviewed, ages of children, and significant observations per child

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